From forthcoming new release, Tea with the Demon, by Isobel Herring.
Cursed to walk the streets of the sleepy town of Wingate, where nothing ever happens, for the rest of his life, or eternity (whichever is the sooner) Dez is bored. It used to be a challenge, but humanity has become far too easy to manipulate.
Until he meets Helen Sharpe.
“Do you have to?” Amanda heard herself ask.
“Will you be OK now?” He gave her one last chance to plead, to find that pathetic excuse to ask him to stay. Not that he would, he’d got what he needed from her and he could leave her wanting more. He had Angel to go to if he felt like it, but now he’d sated that hunger, he didn’t feel like it any more. He was complete and sustained for another few days. His stomach growled. Time to feed the physical body.
Amanda was nodding, she’d be fine, thank you.
He stood and turned to leave.
She was walking in through the door, shaking the rain from her hair when she saw him and froze, just as he froze at the sight of her. Short hair glistened with the rain, jacket dark with moisture, she blinked, looked away and ordered her tea and cake. The same as last time. The same as every time. Rich, dark, chocolate cake with a spiral of squirted cream. A large tea mug on a saucer with a silly little biscuit. Milk, no sugar.
Dez stared. Still that cloud of fluffy nothingness, as opaque to him as Angel could will herself to be. He brushed against her as he passed. “Hello, again.” He couldn’t resist.
“Hello.” She looked up at him as she turned from the counter with her tea and cake, and she smiled. It lit up her face.
She looked for somewhere to sit.
“This table’s free?” Amanda suggested, rising from her chair. “I was just leaving.”
Dez made his escape while the two women exchanged polite thank-yous and pleasantries, and before Amanda could follow him. He couldn’t be bothered with the whining and the clinging when he had to turn her down. Better to leave them wanting, not knowing if he’d have been as good as they imagined. Besides, leaving her in the state she was in meant she was more likely to go and find someone else and that would cause more desires, more need, more want and Dez soaked it all in.
It was still raining, but harder than ever, coming down in torrential waves that bit straight through all but the most watertight clothing. The pavement was swimming in water now and the drains were not really coping, bubbling back up as fast as the deluge hit them. The street was mostly deserted and the shops packed with people dripping on the floors and not buying anything. The whole town simmered with annoyance and Dez grinned. Bad weather always stirred things up. Compress people, and their desires, into a smaller space and inhibitions weakened.
Dez rolled his shoulders, shook the rain from his hair and walked into the burger takeaway beside the library. It heaved with people nibbling at food, trying to make it last so they wouldn’t have to go out in the rain for a few moments more. He stood in the crowd waiting to order food and the miasma of humanity was so thick in that pit he could feel it against his skin. The need for hot drinks, comfort, fatty, greasy food, all ebbed and flowed and built into a frenzy. Dez didn’t have to push them at all, they just spiralled together and he stood at the heart of it. He did nudge them into ordering larger meals, an ice cream as well, that they wouldn’t normally have had, adding sauces and toppings. After all, he slipped the justification in, it wasn’t going to hurt just this once, was it? Really? All that healthy eating stuff was for sunny days, it could wait until tomorrow.
Sated and more than satisfied, Dez ordered his food and took it to lean on a wall under a low overhanging roof. There were no seats to be had inside, and he didn’t feel like sharing any of the partially occupied tables or squeezing between people at the counter by the window. The burger was filled with rubbish, fat and not enough meat. The bread bun was laced with preservatives and chemicals, and the garnish was limp. The fries were over salted and the large Coke too sweet. Perfect.
It stopped raining.
Tea with the Demon is scheduled for release during October. Would you like to help us pick a launch date? Put your suggestions in the comments.